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Exhibit brings Penticton's past to life
A new exhibition opens at the Penticton Museum and Archives Friday, inviting people to take a closer look at their connections to the community and to each other.
“It’s really a way for people in Penticton to make connections to each other and using archives and genealogy to find what those connections are,” said curator Peter Ord, describing You are Here: An exploration of lives, memories and archives, which kicks off with a gala opening at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Ord said the museum wanted to highlight receiving full institutional membership with the Archives Association of B.C., connecting people’s personal history with the local archives.
“It is quite amazing looking at the historical linkages between people who have no relation you think to each other but really do have some connection whether through work or through play or through marriage in some way,” said Ord, noting that the Cleland, Leir, Smuin, Drossos and McLean families form the nucleus of the exhibition.
“If we look at two of the families we are featuring, the Cleland family and the Leir family, the grandfather of Marylin Barnay (Cleland) actually was the priest who married Hugh and Joyce Leir,” said Ord.
Leir was the city’s early lumber baron; the family home, Leir House, is now one of the city’s cultural centres.
“We focus on Kenny McLean, who was the rodeo star. We find their family has very long connections to First Nations hereditary chiefs. It provides us a great link into pre-European settlement family,” said Ord, noting the link to Adam Eneas, the current hereditary chief and perhaps to another rodeo star, Chad Eneas.
“It’s through those five families that we want to spread tentacles and see what kind of connections we can make,” said Ord, explaining that part of this exhibit will be an interactive gathering of personal histories.
The You are Here opening celebration runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, with members of all five featured families speaking. While the exhibit wraps up at the end of June, a companion project, Local Lore, will be running for a full two years.
Local Lore puts the archival process into the hands of the community to record their world, past and present, to benefit future generations, collecting knowledge about Penticton’s people, places, nature and things — who we were, what we did and how we did it.
This is more than just dusting off old artefacts or digging out an heirloom from the back of the closet; Local Lore depends on capturing the memories of people and places. Residents and groups will be encouraged to interview individuals in the community whose stories need to be part of the oral history of Penticton, building upon generational legacies.
“It’s a way to collect people’s information both on paper, but also electronically. That will be projected and presented in the exhibit. There is a step-by-step guide we will provide those who are interested. We are interested in anybody that has just arrived in Penticton yesterday to anybody whose family has been here for four generations,” said Ord. “That’s part of the exercise. Are there really six degrees of separation between each of us?”